Hamas says no progress in Israel's Shalit talks

One Palestinian official said Turkey and Qatar have taken a lead role in the negotiations over Shalit in recent months.

Hamas says no progress in Israel's Shalit talks

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a prisoner swap to free an Israeli soldier have shown little progress, a Hamas official involved in the negotiations said on Friday.

Osama al-Muzaini, a senior Hamas official close to negotiations to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized in a 2006 cross-border raid, said any claims by Israel that progress had been made in the talks were "election-motivated".

Hamas and Israel declared separate ceasefires on Jan. 18 but acts of Israeli air attacks and Palestinian responses have continued.

One Palestinian official said Turkey and Qatar have taken a lead role in the negotiations over Shalit in recent months.

Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to reopen all Gaza's border crossings so that people and goods can move freely.

A surprise deal to swap Shalit for some of the thousands of Hamas prisoners in Israel could help Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who trail right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu in polls ahead of a Feb. 10 election.

Israel tightened its blockade after Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

1.5 million Gazans live under heavy Israel siege for a long time and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned by Muslims around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives since 2007.

"There has been no progress in the (Shalit) file for several months and that is because (Israel) remained unwilling to pay the price," Muzaini told Reuters.

Hamas has demanded the release of 1,400 prisoners including 450 long-serving inmates in exchange for Shalit.

Muzaini said Israel had only agreed to 71 names from the list of 450 long-serving prisoners Hamas had proposed more than a year ago.

Israeli officials have said recently that following the Gaza offensive and the blow it dealt to Hamas, the Jewish state would be willing to relax its objections to the list.

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1300 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and government buildings and destroyed infrastructure system in Gaza, lefting Palestinians without electricity, gas and power.

Exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, said on Friday in Damascus Hamas had only received vague proposals from Egypt without an Israeli commitment to lift the Gaza blockade.

According to Hamas, Israel has offered to open Gaza's border crossings to nearly 75 percent capacity to ease shortages and hardships.

Reuters
Last Mod: 07 Şubat 2009, 17:53
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